Need Help with your Diet?
Carolyn Classick-Kohn,MS,RD

Get Diet HelpBy buying a healthy diet for weight loss, you have made a commitment to yourself about the changes you want to make with your health, and for most people, body weight as well. It is important, and for some, it is even urgent. It is a life goal and a value for you to do this. So, this should be at the top of your “to do” list every day. But is it? What things get in the way of starting and maintaining your eating and/or exercise program?

If you are like most people, just about every day is filled with tasks that must be done, at work, at school, and at home. Your “to do” list is longer than the day allows, and you are probably doing many things at once. And, if you are not getting an average of 7.5 hours of sleep, you are getting through the day sleep-deprived, and you’re not functioning as well as you could. Many of you eat throughout the day haphazardly, eating whatever is handy or convenient at the time. Most of you said that work or school gets in the way of eating well and exercising. Many of you have asked for a plan that considers your habit of snacking and eating convenient foods. But having a plan that gives you goals and strategies to deal with these issues isn’t enough. You have to put it into action, and you have to repeat these new strategies until they become a habit, something you don’t have to think about, you just do.

Commit to the plan
Changing your eating habits and getting in shape are long term goals, and like most long term goals, it is important, but not “urgent”. If you’ve ever taken a course in time management or read Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, you know what I mean. (If you haven’t read this book, I recommend it, it’s worth the time). The thing about important, long term goals, is that often daily, less important, but more “urgent” tasks get in the way of accomplishing them. Most of us are really good about getting the daily things done (doing homework, doing errands, etc.). But pretty soon, a year goes by and we are no closer to the important life goal, no matter how important it was, or still is. So, to make sure that you are making headway on your diet plan, you must put it on your list of things to do, every day. By the way, this has good scientific support. It has been found that just writing down the foods you’ve eaten every day leads to weight loss, all by itself. It seems that the act of being conscious of what you’ve eaten by writing it down can lead to eating better, or less, which leads to weight loss. So, here are some very specific suggestions on how to keep your long term goal of losing weight and improving your health at the top of your daily tasks.

  1. Write down what you want to accomplish with your health and your body weight. Be specific. “I want to lose 10 pounds by the end of the year” is much better than “Someday I would like to lose weight”. Another goal might be “I want to have my cholesterol or blood pressure in the normal range within six months” or "I want to reduce my body fat by 2% over the next 6 months". These are examples of long term goals.

  2. It’s not enough to have the goal. You have to remind yourself of it every day. Put this goal in your day timer, calendar, computer, or where ever you keep your list of “things to do”.

  3. The long term goal might be specific, but you need short term strategies to get there. Your plan was designed with this in mind. All of your eating habits have been analyzed and broken down into categories. You were given specific goals and strategies to implement within each area. Or, you can follow the calorie specific “Eating Guidelines” and just follow the amounts and types of foods to eat. The point is, where is your plan? Do you keep it with you during the day and refer to it?

  4. As I have said in your Personal Diet Plan, you probably cannot make all of the changes at once, and realistically, you can’t do everything right every day. It is definitely a process. Pick one or two strategies that you can focus upon. Most of you have identified snacking and “overeating” as two key elements that need to be worked upon. Write down your snacking goals, read the strategies in your plan. and pick one or two you can actually put into action this week. Be realistic about what you can do. Write your specific strategies in your daily organizer every day. Check it off it you accomplished it.

  5. If you didn’t put your strategies into action, evaluate why. You may need to change something about your day to make this happen for you. For example, if your plan is to bring healthy snacks to school or work, you need to put them on your grocery list and actually buy them first, then set them out where you can remember them! If you brought the healthy snacks, but didn’t eat them and instead ate the higher calorie, high fat snacks, evaluate why this happened. Are you sabotaging yourself? Do you really want to put forth the effort to make the change? Based on your findings, make a plan for tomorrow to accomplish your goal. When you set out to do something hard (like changing your life habits), you will make mistakes, but it is bigger mistake not to try, and to keep trying every day. What is life without goals?

This week, take fifteen minutes and get organized with your plan. Write down your long term health and/or weight goal. Write down your specific strategies you want to work on this week. Put this in your organizer and take it with you. Take a few minutes at the end of the day to evaluate what happened, and to plan the next day. The small amount of time you take to plan will make a big difference in your ability to realize success. Give your important goal the time it deserves!

Try some new recipes, most are pretty easy and quick, but I included a few that take a little more time for those who enjoy cooking and want to try something new.